Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Things for Friday, 59th Edition


38 weeks.

That is how far along I am with this pregnancy. I wish I could say that it has flown by, but honestly I am starting to feel like I have been pregnant forever. This has been a really challenging pregnancy, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I thought that after having three children I'd be a pro at this pregnancy thing, but the Lord has found new ways to stretch my soul. Things have happened this time around that didn't happen last time-- like moving, having to choose a new care provider, having her hang out breech for several weeks (she is head down now), and having my feet swell up like an elephant (really, they are awful).  I feel like I have been given a crash course in faith, patience, endurance, empathy, and sacrifice this pregnancy... and at times it has been a rough road. Yet as I reflect on the journey I have been on the last 9 months, I can really see how I have grown. I am already grateful to this little spirit for teaching me those lessons.


I am down to weekly appointments with my midwife. At my last visit it dawned on me that I am really going to miss going to my appointments. We have to travel to get to her office and so the kids and I always have lunch afterwards at a splash pad near her office. It has been a wonderful part of our summer, and I am going to miss it. It almost makes me hope that this baby doesn't come for a few more weeks so that we can go a few more times before it closes for the Fall.

Being there last time reminded me to treasure these moments. Treasure the last few weeks that this little person is inside of me. Treasure her kicks and her wiggle worm ways. Treasure the way that our bodies are not two separate people yet. Treasure those moments in the morning when, before my prayers, I sing to her. And treasure the last few weeks of being a mom to just three of these little yahoos.

Yet want to know the strangest part?

 It feels like she is already here.

 I can't tell you how often Jon and I have told people that we have four kids lately. Or how one of us is always feeling like one of the kids is missing. Even today, one of the ladies at the homeschool group asked me, "You have four kids, right?" I was just about to say "yes" when I realized that I didn't quite have four yet. "Oh that is funny", she said, "I thought you had four." 

Me too.

It will be nice to have her earth-side, but it is amazing how strong this little spirit's presence is. She is definitely already a part of our family.


We undertook our first official "farming" adventure a few weeks ago. We have been lamenting the fact that our field has been growing a nice crop of grass and weeds, and that we don't have the right equipment to do anything with it. Jon has been drooling over tractors on Craigslist (all of which we can't afford) and in the process found a local high school boy who had a hay mowing business and was looking for fields to mow.

Our field being mowed, the tractor is all the way at the end

In high school Jon and his brothers had a lawn mowing business, but I guess high school boys here in Iowa  have hay mowing business... who'd a thought?

So we hired him to come mow, rake, and bale the grass (um, weeds?) into hay for us. He did a really good job and it was fun to watch him work in the field. Though I think Jon wished he was the one driving the tractor :)

And of course, it has been dry as a bone here the last month, but as soon as we wanted to cut hay it threatened rain. He actually had it all raked and ready to bale on Saturday, and was planing on doing it on Sunday but we asked him if he would wait and do it on Monday, even though Monday it was suppose to rain. Luckily it only sprinkled a little on Monday and so we were still able to get it in before it rained hard the next day.

A tender mercy, for sure.

Jon and Asher got to help bring the bales in from the field and load them in the barn. Jon was in his element. At one point he pulled up in the truck, with hay sticking out of his hair, a big smile on his face, and exclaimed, "Heather, I'm baling hay!" I think he felt like a regular- wanna-be- farm boy. It was hard work, but I think both Jon and Asher loved it. Abe wasn't so fond of the hay though (it is poky) and Rose fell asleep on the couch during it all.

We ended up with 250 bales of hay, which was about 150 more than we were expecting. Both of our barns are piled high and we figure now we have enough hay to feed our goat and our two sheep for about 2 years.  Pretty good for a field full of weeds!


They have things  here called "Threshing Bees" where they showcase antique farm equipment and get it up and running. We went to one near us a few weekends ago and it was really fun. They had old, old steam tractors (the oldest one was 1910ish) running full steam and were threshing oats, plowing fields, and shucking corn with them.

It wasn't just for display, they actually had it running which was cool!

This is the type of picture that if I was a good photographer would have been incredible. So just use your imagination :)
Riding in a buggy pulled by mules, I'd never seen a mule before!

Biggest straw pile ever
Even though I am just a wanna-be farm girl I thought it was pretty cool. They even had an old snow cone maker hooked up to a little steam engine and were giving out snow cones.

It has been really funny to me how passionate people can be about tractors. I never though much about them before we moved here, but now they are a common part of everyday life. People don't so much display the colors of the college they are loyal too, but they do make it known which color tractor brand they are loyal too. The three big ones where we live are:
Green= John Deere
Red= Chase
Blue= New Holland

Also, out West they have rodeos, while in the Midwest they have tractor pulls, in which people compete to see how much weight their tractor (or mega suped up truck) can pull. We saw one at the county fair and it was really strange. It might take me a while to get use to all the tractor-love, though I think that Jon has been bit by the tractor-love-bug big time.

Future tractor lovers of America?
It makes me smile.


We took a bit of a break from our homeschool because we went to Utah for a wedding, which was  wonderful. We got back into the swing of things this week and it was cute to see that Abe was the one most excited about "doing school" again. Every morning we sing an alphabet song and point at the letters on our chart.  I didn't realize how much he was paying attention until, when I turned on the music, he pulled out the chart and started to point at letters. It is amazing to me how much he learns just by watching.

We are also almost finished with the whole alphabet (we just have "z" left to do next week) and our kitchen wall is filled with the kid's letters.

Rose is doing really well at writing her name and at recognizing most of the letters. I think Asher is getting really close to being ready to read. He is starting to sound things out and is really interested in reading whatever he can find. It is exciting to see how in just a month or two he has gone from not being interested in letters or reading at all, to being ready to read. It is giving me hope that I am not going to totally screw up my children, because some days it feels like it!

The other wall in our house that is getting covered is our dining room wall. We started talking about different classifications of vertebrates this week and made an animal chart on our wall.

Every day I have been hiding different animal cards (which I got here) around the house. The kids go on an "animal hunt", find them, and then have to classify them into which type of animal they are (mammal, amphibian, bird, turtle, or fish). It has been a big success and has been a good way to introduce the different groups. After we finish "hunting" all the cards then we will study each individual group separately. Mostly, that means that I plan on getting a big stack of books about each type of animal from the library and reading them while I nurse a new baby. I also got the Planet Earth series and plan on utilizing that a lot the first few weeks the baby is around.

Which hopefully won't be too much longer :)


Okay, and just one last thing, because I can't resist it.

This is Asher with his rooster. He named it Super Duper Lightning Bolt... and you can't forget the "Super Duper" part just so you know. Asher will correct you.

He is an Araucana rooster and is really gorgeous. The first few days we had him the hens just followed him around in a pack. He is kind of a Rockstar.

Besides, he lets Asher snuggle him like this.

Which is just weird.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Does it Mean that Eve was Beguiled?

"And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (Genesis 3:13)

What does that word mean? 

For a long time I thought it only meant "tricked" or " deceived" and it bothered me to think that Eve, a woman who was suppose to be one of God's most valiant daughters, could be so easily duped.

I mean Moses wasn't deceived or tricked by Satan when he tried to appear to him as a being of light (Moses 1:12-16) Why then would Eve have been any less skeptical of Satan's claims? 

According to Hebrew scholar  Dr. Nehama Aschenasy the word translated as " beguiled" does not mean what we think it does. As I explained in my essay  " We Are Each Eve":
"Dr. Nehama Aschenasy, a Hebrew scholar, said that in Hebrew the word which is translated as beguiled in the Bible does not mean "tricked" or " deceived" as we commonly think. Rather, the Hebrew word is a rare verb that indicates an intense multilevel experience evoking great emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual trauma. As Aschenasy explained, it is likely that Eve's intense, multilevel experience, this " beguiling" by the serpent was the catalyst that caused Eve to ponder and evaluate what her role in tbe Garden really was." (The Gift of Giving Life: Re-discovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth, pgs. 2-3)
It completely changes our perspective on Eve if, instead of thinking of her being tricked into eating the fruit, we see her undergo an intense multilevel experience before choosing to partake. It is important to remember that Satan had used the symbol of the serpent, a symbol of Christ, to try to deceive her into thinking he had power and authority. He also didn't lie to her outright, he just told her half-truths.

"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die (Lie) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Truth)" (Genesis 3:4-5)
Yet even his disguise and half disguised lies were not enough to deceive Eve into blindly eating the fruit. What Satan's efforts did do however was  to beguile her. He made her question, made her doubt, and sent her on a soul searching journey. 

What was her purpose in the garden?

 How were she and Adam to fulfill God's command to multiply and replenish the earth?

What was God's plan for her? 

Was there any other way it could be accomplished? 

These may have been questions she struggled with in the garden and one can only imagine that her choices must have weighed heavily on her heart. 

Eventually Eve chose to eat of the fruit, but not because she was deceived.
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat,  and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Genesis 3:6)
Eve ate because she saw.

In her own words she explained,
"Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." (Moses 5:11)
Furthermore, Adam also ate because he saw and understood. He said:
"Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy and again in the flesh I shall see God." (Moses 5:10)
And when the Lord called them forward there wasn't any blaming, just an account of what had happened. 
"And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (Genesis 3:12-13)
Both Adam and Eve understood what they had done and they were both willing to accept the consequences in order to move God's great plan of happiness forward. Furthermore, God didn't curse them, that was reserved solely for Satan. What He did do was explain to them what the consequences of their choices were and give them direction for navigating the world He was sending them into.

I think that too often Eve gets vilified for eating the fruit, or is tagged as being easily duped, when really the truth is that what she did was an act of sheer bravery and faith. Her choice was a conscious, faith filled leap into the unknown, and her struggle in the Garden should not be overlooked.

Her choice made all other choices possible.

Adam and Eve Statue, Villa Montalvo, CA

"Mother, who willingly made that personal journey into the valley of the
shadow of death to take us by the hand and introduce us to birth—even to mortal life—deserves our undying gratitude."

—Thomas S. Monson

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Will be Speaking in Brigham City, Utah this Sunday!

We are in Utah this week! My brother-in-law got married yesterday in the Salt Lake Temple and we came for the wedding. It was such a beautiful day and there was an incredible spirit in the room when they were married. I really love wedding days. There just isn't anything better (okay, except maybe new babies:)

Here is my sweet little Rose as a flower girl.

Anyway, we won't be staying in Utah too long (I do need to get home before this baby makes her arrival) but while I am here I will be doing a fireside for a few of the Relief Societies in Brigham City, Utah.

If you live in Northern Utah and would like to come-- and are female-- you are more than welcome! My topic is "Developing Your Spiritual Gifts" and it should have something for women in every stage of life. Here are the details.

When: Sunday, August 11th at 7 PM
Where: LDS church on 865 S 300 W in Brigham City, Utah 

I would love to see you there!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Wives Made to Bow Down With Grief, (unnamed women 1838- 1839)

There is a famous story about Joseph Smith (often called "Majesty in Chains") about how, during his imprisonment in Richmond Jail, he and several other men lay on the floor unable to sleep because the guards were boasting of the murders, robbery, and rapes they had committed against the Saints. Of this experience Elder Parley P. Pratt recounted:
“I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words: 

‘SILENCE. … In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!’
“He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.” (Source)
I have heard this story since I was a small girl and it has always been one of my favorites. I love the image of Joseph standing majestic and powerful, even in chains.

Still, there has always been one part of the story that has made me wonder.

Parley P. Pratt said that the men were bragging about rapes they had committed and I can't help think about what those early LDS women would have gone through during this time.  Often when we talk about the hardships that the early saints faced during the extermination order we focus on how their homes were destroyed, their crops burned, and their men shot, but we never hear about what happened to the women.

In D&C 123 Joseph Smith urged the Saints to make statements as to the abuse and sufferings they went through. He wrote: 
"It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression... Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand; Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy." (D&C 123: 7, 9-10)
I was curious to know what it was that these wives and children went through that was enough to make "hell itself shudder", and so I did a little research. I was able to find the affidavits of several of the early church leaders, including Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and Sidney Rigdon,  who testified to a court of law about what they and the Saints went through.

Reading their accounts, given in their owns words, was powerful and overwhelming. I realized as I read their testimonies that the violence the saints went through was not just the "suffering or hardship" that we often talk about. They were facing genocide-like violence. The soldiers had been commanded to drive the Mormons out of Missouri or destroy them. They had full license to use any sort of horrible means they could devise, which they did.

As I read these accounts I saw men and women literally fleeing for their lives. If they were caught they faced violence that was comparable to any of our modern day genocides--- think Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Kosovo --- and you get a better idea of what they were facing.  And just like in any genocide, rape was one of the primary weapons.

I feel like it is important to share these early LDS women's stories.  It makes my heart ache to think about all they went through for the gospel.... and that we don't even know their names. Granted, they probably didn't want their names to be shared given the nature of their experience, but I think they need to be remembered.

Warning: Some of these accounts are hard to read and so if you are sensitive to things like this you might want to skip the rest.

In his testimony Hyrum Smith spoke of his time in Richmond jail and said that:
The same men sat as a jury in the day time, and were placed over us as a guard in the night time. They tantalized us and boasted of their great achievements at Haun's Mills and at other places, telling us how many houses they had burned, and how many sheep, cattle, and hogs they had driven off belonging to the "Mormons," and how many rapes they had committed, and what squealing and kicking there was among the d——b——s, saying that they lashed one woman upon one of the damned "Mormon" meeting benches, tying her hands and her feet fast, and sixteen of them abused her as much as they had a mind to, and then left her bound and exposed in that distressed condition. These fiends of the lower regions boasted of these acts of barbarity, and tantalized our feelings with them for ten days. We had heard of these acts of cruelty previous to this time, but we were slow to believe that such acts had been perpetrated. The lady who was the subject of this brutality did not recover her health to be able to help herself for more than three months afterwards.
Parley P. Pratt testified, how when he was being transported by a group of soldiers: 
"...our ears were continually shocked with the relation of the horrid deeds they had committed and which they boasted of... They also named one or two individual females of our society, whom they had forcibly bound, and twenty or thirty of them, one after another, committed rape upon them. One of these females was a daughter of a respectable family with whom I have been long acquainted, and with whom I have since conversed and learned that it was truly the case. Delicacy at present forbids my mentioning the names."
Brigham Young also stated in his testimony that:
"A part of these mobs were painted like Indians; and Gillum, their leader, was also painted in a similar manner, and styled himself the "Delaware Chief;"... That there were "Mormon" citizens wounded and murdered by the army under the command of General Lucas; and he verily believes that several women were ravished to death by the soldiery of Lucas and Clark.
... The next morning, General Lucas demanded and took away the arms of the Militia of Caldwell county, (which arms have never been returned), assuring them that they should be protected. But as soon as they obtained possession of the arms, they commenced their ravages by plundering the citizens of their bedding, clothing, money, wearing apparel, and everything of value they could lay their hands upon; and also attempting to violate the chastity of the women in sight of their husbands and friends, under the pretence of hunting for prisoners and arms."

 In Sidney Rigdon's testimony he recounted what he had heard from soldiers while being held prisoner:
I heard a party of them, one night, telling about some female whose person they had violated; and this language was used by one of them: "The d—b—, how she yelled! " Who this person was, I did not know; but before I got out of prison I heard that a widow, whose husband had died some few months before, with consumption, had been brutally violated by a gang of them, and died in their hands, leaving three little children, in whose presence the scene of brutality took place. 

After I got out of prison and had arrived in Quincy, Illinois, I met a strange man in the street who inquired of me respecting a circumstance of this kind, saying that he had heard of it, and was on his way going to Missouri to get the children if he could find them. He said the woman thus murdered was his sister, or his wife's sister, I am not positive which. The man was in great agitation. What success he had, I know not.
Sidney Rigdon also told about how, while he was in prison, he heard men planning to specifically target his wife and daughter and the wife of the prophet, Emma Smith (just to clarify, Joseph Smith, Jr's father had died before these testaments were made and so he was legally recognized at this point as Joseph Smith, Sen.). He said: 
During the time that Clark was examining the military law, there was something took place which may be proper to relate in this place. I heard a plan laying among a number of those who belonged to Clark's army, and some of them officers of high rank, to go to Far West and commit violence on the persons of Joseph Smith, Sen's wife and my wife and daughter.  

This gave me some uneasiness. I got an opportunity to send my family word of their design and to make such arrangements as they could to guard against their vile purpose. The time at last arrived, and the party started for Far West. I waited with painful anxiety for their return. After a number of days, they returned. I listened to all they said, to find out, if possible, what they had done. One night—I think the very night after their return—I heard them relating to some of those who had not been with them the events of their adventure. Inquiry was made about their success in the particular object of their visit to Far West. The substance of what they said in answer was that they had passed and trepassed both houses, and saw the females; but there were so many men about the town, that they dare not venture, for fear of being detected; and their numbers were not sufficient to accomplish anything, if they made the attempt; and they came off without trying.
I have often thought that Emma Smith must have been a special target for violence or persecution because of her relationship to the prophet, and so I wasn't too surprised to read that she indeed was. This would have been the time period when Emma crossed the not-quite-frozen- Mississippi river with her four small children and the prophet's translation of the Bible hidden under her skirts. Understanding now the type of violence she faced-- and must have witnessed--  my heart just aches for her and for the additional burdens she must have been carrying in her heart as she crossed that river.

Emma fleeing with her family from Missouri

I didn't find any more accounts of rape among the testimonies, but I was extremely touched by several of the other accounts of the suffering LDS women went through.

Both Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight recounted the story of Agnes Mouton Coolbrith, who was the wife of Don Carlos Smith.

 Hyrum said:
On the evening that General Parks arrived at Diahman, the wife of my brother, the late Don Carlos Smith, came into Colonel Wight's about 11 o'clock at night, bringing her two children along with her, one about two and a half years old, the other a babe in her arms. She came on foot, a distance of three miles, and waded Grand river. The water was then waist deep, and the snow three inches deep. She stated that a party of the mob—a gang of ruffians—had turned her out of doors and taken her household goods, and had burnt up her house, and she had escaped by the skin of her teeth. Her husband at that time was in Tennessee, [on a mission] and she was living alone.
Lyman Wight said:
The night previous to his arrival, the wife of Don Carlos Smith was driven from her house by this ruthless mob, and came into Adam-ondi-Ahman—a distance of three miles, carrying her two children on her hips, one of which was then rising of two years old, the other six or eight months old, the snow being over shoemouth deep, and she having to wade Grand river, which was at this time waist deep. The mob burnt the house and everything they had in it.
It is interesting to me that both of these men included her story in their testimonies, indicating that it must have left a strong impression upon them.

Agnes Mouton Coolbrith

There were also several stories of women who gave birth in the midst of all this violence, and since I have a soft place in my heart for pregnant women, their stories really touched me.

Lyman Wight testified that:
"... I was chased by one of these gangs across an open prairie five miles, without being overtaken, and lay three weeks in the woods, and was three days and three nights without food. In the meantime my wife and three small children, in a skiff, passed down Big Blue river, a distance of fourteen miles, and crossed over the Missouri river, and there borrowed a rag carpet of one of her friends and made a tent of the same, which was the only shield from the inclemency of the weather during the three weeks of my expulsion from home... Here, on the banks of the Missouri river, were eight families, exiled from plenteous homes, without one particle of provisions or any other means under the heavens to get any, only by hunting in the forest. I here built a camp, twelve feet square, against a sycamore log, in which my wife bore me a fine son on the 27th of December. The camp having neither chimney nor floor, nor covering sufficient to shield them from the inclemency of the weather, rendered it intolerable.
He also recounted:
"... I saw one hundred and ninety women and children driven thirty miles across the prairie, with three decrepit men only in their company, in the month of November, the ground thinly crusted with sleet; and I could easily follow on their trail by the blood that flowed from their lacerated feet on the stubble of the burnt prairie! This company, not knowing the situation of the country or the extent of Jackson county, built quite a number of cabins, that proved to be in the borders of Jackson county. The mob, infuriated at this, rushed on them in the month of January, 1834, burned these scanty cabins, and scattered the inhabitants to the four winds; from which cause many were taken suddenly ill, and of this illness died. In the meantime, they burned two hundred and three houses and one grist mill, these being the only residences of the Saints in Jackson county.

The most part of one thousand and two hundred Saints who resided in Jackson county, made their escape to Clay county. I would here remark that among one of the companies that went to Clay county was a woman named Sarah Ann Higbee, who had been sick of chills and fever for many months, and another of the name of Keziah Higbee, who, under the most delicate circumstances, lay on the banks of the river, without shelter, during one of the most stormy nights I ever witnessed, while torrents of rain poured down during the whole night, and streams of the smallest size were magnified into rivers. The former was carried across the river, apparently a lifeless corpse. The latter was delivered of a fine son on the banks, within twenty minutes after being carried across the river, under the open canopy of heaven; and from which cause I have every reason to believe she died a premature death." 

Sidney Rigdon also mentioned the death of a mother He said:

"The first evening after we left, we put up for the night in a grove of timber. Soon after our arrival in the grove, a female who a short time before had given birth to a child, in consequence of exposure, died. A grave was dug in the grove, and the next morning the body was deposited in it without a coffin, and the company proceeded on their journey, part of them going to Daviess county, and part into Caldwell."

I am sure that if I dug deeper I'd find even more stories and that these are just a small sample of what LDS women went through in this period. 

I can't help but think that we sometimes miss the mark when talking about the "suffering" of the early saints. We tend to focus on their hardships when crossing the plains from Nauvoo to Utah, but I am sure that to many of the women who survived the extermination order in Missouri, crossing the plains would have seemed like a cake walk. I am not trying to minimize the challenges of the trek West but there wasn't any one pursing them, raping them, murdering their husbands or torturing their children. That journey must have felt like glorious freedom after what they had been through. 

I hope that as you read and think about these women's experiences, their sacrifices and their sufferings, that you think about your own commitment to the gospel.  Would you have the faith to stay true to the church, the prophet, and to Jesus Christ if you or your daughter had been gang raped, if your children had starved to death, if your best friend died from exposure in childbirth, or if your husband had been tortured till his bowels fell out? Could your testimony withstand persecution and violence like many early LDS women went through?

I'd like to think that mine could, but I hope I never find out for sure! 

Unless otherwise indicated all quotes were taken from: History of the Church, Volume 3, pages 422 & 428. Affidavits Of Hyrum Smith et al. On Affairs In Missouri, 1831-39; Officially Subscribed To Before The Municipal Court Of Nauvoo The First Day Of July, 1843.  (link)